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Friday, May 24, 2013

Interview with Kelly Walker

Today, I want you to meet Kelly Walker. She is the YA fantasy author of the Souls of the Stones series. I have ARC's of her series that I review and post very soon. 

*The Genesis Round*

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think the answer to this really falls into two parts. When I was a teen, I wrote a lot. I took creative writing classes in school, and filled notebook after notebook with poetry and stories, but they were all written only for myself. Usually to express an emotion, or work through something, or even just to dream a little. I wanted a career with horses, and so I wrote about girls who got to do just that. The first thing I ever wrote for someone else, was a little book I wrote for my mom called "The Mom's Handbook," because each time I'd ask Mom something like, "but why do you have to do that!" she'd reply with, "it's in the Mom's Handbook." 
After a while, I'd say around college, I stopped writing because I stopped feeling like I needed to write. A few years ago, Riya found her way into my head, and my interest in writing again was solely driven by her story. Now, I can't imagine not writing, and only wish I hadn't stopped for so long. I think the difference is, now I write for more than just myself. I still write the stories I want to read, but each day writing is like treasure hunting. I get to make so many discoveries about the stories of fascinating characters. 
Mom's handbook, I love it. 

What books have most influenced your life most? 
I would have to say Twilight. It was recommended to me by a friend, and several friends and I read it at the same time. We were all in different parts of the country, but this was something we shared. Then my husband read it, and he and I went to see all the movies together. I think part of the reason it effected me so much is because it gave me such a sense of community. More and more of my friends read it and obsessed over it (and when I say friends, I mean adult friends, we were all in our mid twenties to mid thirties) and it was incredible to be a part of a fandom for the first time. We went to a B&N midnight release for Breaking Dawn, and it was beyond cool to see hundreds of people crowded into a store, all for the love of a book. I think it opened my eyes to how much a story can truly matter and impact people.
Any book that gets people reading, especially kids, is a great book in my opinion. The community that belongs to a fandom is pretty great. 

Do you have a specific writing style? 
I've been told that I do. I'm a member of an online critique group, and sometimes we submit things anonymously. There are a few of my crit partners who can instantly pick out my stuff. I like words that flow together nicely, I even like a bit of 'purple prose.' I tend to jumble sentences and get a bit wordy, but fortunately I have a fantastic team of crit-partners and editors who help me tone that down before anyone else sees it.
Readers, the prose turns purple when it becomes too ornate, flowery, and frou foru. 
Example of purple prose, the 17 pages it takes to describe Bella's transformation in Breaking Dawn.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Letting my characters make mistakes. I'm often following the story as I write like a reader, and I want to scream at them not to do what I know they will. I have to stay true to their paths, and their stories, and their personalities, but sometimes it breaks my heart.
Well, you are kind of like their parent. You don't want to see your kids struggle.
Aside from that, the hardest part is probably just staying disciplined, and making sure I get my writing done each day. I can be a bit distractable, and can easily waste hours in checking different forums and groups and websites, and then I realize I sat down to write but didn't. I've started blocking my net during my writing hours to make sure I stay on task. 
I could benefit from blocking the net for distraction during writing time, but I have to have it for links and research regarding the review. Then I find rabbit holes to wander down, like facebook. Boo. 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Elle Casey. There have been times where I've been very frustrated, or confused, and she's been more than willing to give me guidance and advice. I admire her so much. 
Shout out to the amazing Elle Casey!

*The Philosophy Round*

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
Maybe...*bats eyelashes*
I don't think it will be too apparent until Broken Stone, but Riya really does make her own path. She has things she has to do, and she doesn't always like it. She's been set on this course by forces outside of her control, and they have very definitive ideas of what they want her to do and who they want her to be. One thing I think she's learning is that it is the journey that matters, not just where you end up. The "good guys" and the "bad guys" all sort of want the same thing. They just want to do it in very different ways. 
The ends don't always justify the means.
Very true, and a gripping journey it is!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Thank you for being my readers! There is not much cooler than hearing that your characters have touched someone else. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 
That you can't please everyone. I've always been a people pleaser, but in this, it is impossible. Not everyone likes the same things. I have to just do the best I can, and then let it be what it is. 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, Broken Stone is everything I dreamed the end of Riya's story would be. I learned so much from writing the first two, I think Broken Stone is incredibly strong, and I think it will satisfy readers. I brought in a larger team for this book, since it was the end of the trilogy. I wanted to make sure I answered as many of the lingering questions as I could. I think we accomplished that. 

*The Shameless Display of Affection Round*

How did you come up with the idea for this book? What was the inspiration?
Riya herself. She popped into my head as nothing more than a girl standing before a stone pass in the mountains. She had an entourage behind her (though it was much bigger at first) and I knew she was making a choice. If she went through, it would change everything. I also knew there were two important men - one would be kind, and one would not. I didn't know which was which, so I didn't know what the right choice was. I tried to recreate that experience for the reader. Once I figured out why she was standing at that wall, I had to figure out all the little pieces that make her special. Why did it matter if she married Torian, or not? From there, the idea of the three families was born, as well as their gifts.
As for recreating the experience for the reader, I think you nailed it on the head. 

In the first Souls of the Stones book, every time I thought I had who is bad vs. who is good figured out you would drop a bomb on me. The characters had so many facets.  They must drive you mad running around in your head. 
They do indeed. Fortunately, my family has stopped threatening to have me committed when they hear me arguing with them. 

How many books do you plan to write in the Souls of the Stones series?
The main trilogy (Riya's story) is three books (Cornerstone, Second Stone, Broken Stone) No matter how much I love the world and the characters, I will not deviate from that because I would be doing a disservice to the story and the characters to try and drag it out. It also fits nicely - three lands, three families, three books. 
But, while I won't do more with this section of their world and story, I hope to do a lot more related works. Gifted Stone is already out, and it tells Rink's background, and gives us a nice idea of what Christmas time would be like in The Three Corners. I have the first prequel coming out in June, and it's called Severed Stone. Severed Stone's events are briefly summarized during a scene in Broken Stone, but while writing that section I realized there was so much more. I couldn't fit it all into Broken Stone without it becoming a story within a story, so I made it a separate book. It answers the questions of how and why the lands split. Severed Stone is a novella, about half the length of Cornerstone.
I'm also writing Jaded Stone, which is Valencia's story. She's probably one of the most fascinating characters, because we know so much about her, and her life, and her choices, but I'm not sure we understand them. Hopefully Jaded Stone will do that.
I did introduce a new character toward the end of Broken Stone, and there is a distinct possibility I will pick up with their story some day, and I don't know how many books that would be.
And dear old Garith has a few things he'd like to tell us as well, so I think I may be giving him a series of short stories that may fill in some gaps. 

*The Proverbial Round*

Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Elle Casey - I love her spunky heroines. She rocks.
S.M. Reine - I love her werewolf series. They are quick easy reads, perfect for me to take to bed with me and not be up too terribly late because they are a bit shorter. I really like Rylie as a heroine, so she's fun to read about.
Diana Gabaldon - Her Outlander series is so original. There's nothing else I've found quite like it. I love seeing the bit of history mixed with a bit of fantasy and magic and the hero is so swoon-worthy. She has a brilliant way with words, I just wish she wrote faster. 

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 
 Elle Casey and SM Reine are both relatively new to me, they've been publishing for a year and two years respectively. I used to be a huge James Patterson fan, and while I still like his books, I just don't find them as fun as the indie stuff I've been reading lately.
Indie is fun! I have found so many new authors, my TBR pile overflows. I love reviewing them and introducing them to other readers. 

What book are you reading now? 
This answer changes just about every day or every other day. I read for 2-3 hours ever night once I go to bed, and I'm a fast reader. Right now I'm reading the ARC of CJ Archer's The Wrong Girl. 

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Don't listen to anyone you don't agree with. It may sound very simple, but there are a lot of people with opinions about books, publishing and writing. There are no rules, only suggestions. Use -ly adverbs, or don't. Start with action, or don't. Self publish, Trade publish, or keep it to yourself. There is no wrong answer, and there is no wrong way. 
The best thing you can do is know why you  are writing. For me personally, I'm writing to tell a story. I don't care about crafting perfect words or flawless sentences. I just try to stay out of my own way while I'm delivering the story so I don't interfere with my reader's enjoyment. That may not be what matters to you, and that's ok. Just find what does matter, know your purpose, and do it.
 Best. Advice. Ever. 

*Upcoming Events*

What is next for you? Any works in progress?
Too many to count. I have three stories in various stages at the moment. Jaded Stone is one. Another I've really been wanting to write is a vampire romance with a couple cool twists. I've got some of the research and character building done for this, but none of the actual writing. And a new story has recently taken over my life, called No One's Angel. It's NA Contemporary Romance, and I am having so much fun with it. The bare bones of it is two people who used to play an online game together, and they grew very close. They lose touch for a year, then she shows up on his doorstep. She's running from her past, and he'd just finally got his head straight after her disappearance. I'm hoping for a sort of cross between Damaged from HM Ward and the movie with Jennifer Lopez - Enough.
I will keep my eyes peeled!

Thank so much for talking with me!
Thanks so much for having me!

A book in hand is better than two on the shelf.

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